Critics Claim California Higher Ed Master Plan Outdated

Many critics and politicians are claiming that California’s 50-year old Master Plan for Higher Education is outdated and needs to be revised for the new century.

The plan was developed in the 1960s by the then-governor Edmund “Pat” Brown. The mechanics behind were that each of the three higher education sectors, community colleges, state colleges, and state universities, would have their own place in the educational system so as not to step on any toes and create unnecessary competition. Community colleges would offer only two-year degrees and career programs; state colleges would offer four-year degrees, and the state universities would offer doctoral programs, writes Dan Walters for the Sacramento Bee.

This, however, in recent years, is changing. Community colleges are seeking the right to offer bachelor’s degrees and state colleges are requesting permission to offer doctoral degrees. Walters quotes Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego) as saying:

“We’re in a different time now. California is in a better position now to invest in closing our skills gap. It’s wishful thinking to believe we can meet the challenge of producing another 60,000 bachelor degrees a year without using community colleges, and the longer we delay in using them, the further behind we will fall.”

With California having such a large population, this is a national issue, says Walters. California greatly affects the nation’s economy. California’s Master Plan for Higher Education was once held in high respect and regard, and was a model for other states to follow. Now, many, including the current governor, Jerry Brown, who is the son of the aforementioned governor, are seeing it as outdated and in need of reform.

However, not everyone agrees. The leaders of California’s universities dismissed a report done by a graduate group at the University of Pennsylvania stating that California’s education system was “rudderless.”

University of California president Janet Napoltiano admitted that she had not read the report but wondered why another state was interested in their educational system’s effectiveness, according to Katie Orr of the Capital News Radio. However, she does seem to admit California’s need for educational update:

“We know that we can do more to make sure that higher education, as envisioned in the Master Plan, is strengthened and available in California and that it is essential for California to thrive,” she says.

The report, called “From Master Plan to Mediocrity: Higher Education Performance and Policy in California” does not outline detailed recommendations on different pathways to repair the system of state colleges and universities, writes Larry Gordon for the Los Angeles Times.

However, it does provide guidelines including developing more easy to predict tuition rates that would not go back and forth from big rises to falls and freezes and then back again.